Climate’s clear connect: Africa needs to come together to curb its health crises fanned by global warming

The resource-constrained scenarios faced by most governments warrant pooling of resources 

By Damaris Matoke-Muhia
Published: Monday 03 April 2023

Deputy director for Biotechnology Research Programme, Kenya Medical Research InstituteTo curb the ongoing climate-related health crises, Africa must foster cross-border, regional and global partnerships. Such collaborations are critical, especially in the resource-constrained scenarios that most African governments are in.

With the situation getting out of hand, a collaborative approach by African nations is of the essence. Working together will help identify gaps and formulate practical response strategies, guidelines on issues such as water scarcity, food security and sanitation for all.

Within countries, Africa will need cross-sectoral collaborations on both research and response, as is happening in countries like Kenya, where various ministries, including health, agriculture and environment, work together in response to some climate-linked disease outbreaks.

At the regional level, there is a need for cross-border collaborations because some climatic conditions and ailments go beyond borders.

A more integrated and collaborative response in Africa would go a long way in curbing emerging challenges and vectors like Anopheles stephensi, for instance.

The insect was historically considered an Asian malaria vector and has been one of the main transmission drivers in cities across India, Iran and Pakistan, but is now wreaking havoc in the Horn of Africa.

This is just one of the multiple biological challenges facing malaria containment in Africa. It is also a clear indication of wide-ranging weaknesses in the ongoing vector surveillance and control programmes.

Instead of tackling such deadly vector species as stand-alone challenges/threats, the affected countries should adopt multi-sectoral and more integrated initiatives that can sustainably curb outbreaks of malaria and other diseases that related insects cause.

Damaris Matoke-Muhia is deputy director for Biotechnology Research Programme, Kenya Medical Research Institute

This was first published in the 16-31 March, 2023 print edition of Down To Earth

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